Bahrain vows 'zero tolerance' to prisoner abuse

Encouraging responsible journalism

DUBAI - Bahrain's rulers have pledged a policy of "zero tolerance" towards any abuse of political detainees, to reinstate all public workers sacked for dissent and to allow foreign media into the kingdom.
The government said in a statement late Wednesday that the measures were in line with the recommendations of an international probe into a month of unrest that shook the Gulf state earlier this year.
The kingdom would demonstrate a "zero tolerance policy towards torture, inhuman treatment and degrading detention practices," said the statement carried by state news agency BNA.
The steps also include "reinstating all public sector employees by 1 January 2012 charged with free speech activity," said the English-language statement.
The government would also begin "signing contracts with leading international and regional news and feature channels and broadcast outlets guaranteeing a pluralist, inclusive media environment that encourages responsible journalism while minimising speech inciting hatred, and sectarianism," it added.
Bahraini authorities on Saturday dropped charges relating to freedom of expression in 34 cases linked to anti-regime protests in February and March, BNA reported.
The news agency cited prosecutor general Ali al-Bouainain as saying the move affected 343 suspects, but that some of them facing other charges "including acts of violence and sabotage" would still be prosecuted.
In March, security forces boosted by some 1,000 Gulf troops crushed the month-long uprising in Manama's Pearl Square, epicentre of an anti-government movement that apparently took its lead from Tunisian and Egyptian protests.
The Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry said 35 people were killed in the unrest, including five security personnel, and five detainees who were tortured to death while in custody. Hundreds were also injured.